WASHINGTON, D.C. – If anyone had any doubts about the ability of 19-year-old Bryce Harper in a major league uniform, those concerns might have been put to rest on Wednesday night at Nationals Park.
Well, that is – at least for now.
Since his major league debut on Saturday, the can’t-miss-prospect has been a productive part of the Washington squad, and that was further illustrated against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Harper once again showcased his talents with three hits in the game, some incredible play in the field, and was the catalyst to the winning rally in the bottom of the ninth – via a double off the right-field wall – setting up Ian Desmond’s dramatic game-winning two-run home run off Arizona closer J.J. Putz.
When all was said and done, the Washington (15-9) defeated Arizona (13-12), 5-4, and ended a five-game losing skid.
On the night, Harper had three hits and his first multihit game in his short major league career so far. He had two doubles – including one that nearly was a home run – and an infield single.
So far, Harper has been an enormous contributor and has served as a spark for the squad despite only being in the major leagues for only five days. Harper is now 5-for-14 with the Nationals and played a huge part in the victory against the Diamondbacks.
With the spotlight on him in the Washington metropolitan region – and across the nation – on the field, Harper has so far delivered on his promise and served as a catalyst for the Nationals.
Desmond might have had the key moment that produced the win; however, there’s no doubt that eyes were on Harper.
On the mound for Washington, Edwin Jackson – who started the game – did not factor in the decision. He went six innings and gave up four runs. The right-hander labored from time to time, allowing eight hits and walking two; however, he was able to keep his team in the game.
The bullpen was also a source of strength for Washington as Craig Stammen threw two shutout innings, while Henry Rodriguez (1-1, 1.80) rebounded from a horrendous outing over the weekend and pitched a scoreless ninth to give his a team a chance at coming back.
Arizona starting pitcher Joe Saunders too earned a no-decision. He went 6 1/3 innings, gave up three runs – two earned.
J.J. Putz (0-2, 6.48) – who was on the mound during the ninth inning – blew the save and took the loss.
Washington took a 1-0 lead in the third inning as Steve Lombardozzi plated in Wilson Ramos with a double; however, Arizona answered with a Justin Upton solo homer and a Ryan Roberts sacrifice fly to make it 2-1.
The Nationals again took the lead, 3-2, in the fourth inning as Harper plated in Danny Espinosa, then scored as Ramos ripped a ball to Diamondbacks’ second baseman Aaron Hill. Hill was overwhelmed by Ramos’ hot smash and the ball trickled by him. Harper, noticing this, ran from second base to home, and was called safe at home after he was able to knock the ball out of catcher Miguel Montero’s glove.
However, Washington once again gave up in the lead in the top of the sixth inning. Arizona tied the game at three at three as Paul Goldschmidt plated Upton with a two-out double, and then they took a 4-3 lead off a Roberts’ RBI-single to left.
THE GOOD: Harper, what else can be said? Also, the bullpen. After seeing Henry Rodriguez implode on Saturday night in Los Angeles during the eighth inning, it is good to see that he moved on from it and delivered in a key ninth inning.
Let’s also not forget Craig Stammen, who pitched two scoreless innings and has a 0.71 ERA on the season. He has found a niche in the bullpen after his stint as a starting pitcher in Washington.
Also, Stephen Strasburg was named the National League pitcher of the month for April 2012. He has been flat-out dominant since coming off Tommy John surgery last season, pitching to 2-0 record and a Gibsonian 1.13 ERA.
THE BAD: Xavier Nady. He is only hitting .123 right now and went 0-for-3 last night.
THE UGLY: Danny Espinosa. He continued his slide, going 0-for-3 with a strikeout. He’s hitting .188/.286/.247.
THE STATS: 10 hits, 3 BBs, 11 Ks. 3-for-13 with RISP, 6 LOB. E: Nady (1).
NEXT GAME: Thursday at 7:05 pm against the Diamondbacks. Ross Detwiler (2-1, 1.64) hosts Ian Kennedy (3-0, 3.38)